Heritage tourism minus the heritage

James City, VA, is near the site of a settlement of 19th Century freed slaves. Despite all the archaelogical digging thereabouts, no one has come up with a single knick-knack from this old town.

County Director of Parks and Recreation Ned Cheely said most of the experts "felt like we should continue to look for the brass ring. But at the same time we should also interpret and celebrate what we've already found."

Heartbreaking. Not a single knick-knack.

Said Jim Dorsey, assistant site manager at nearby Jamestown Settlement:

"You're going to get a lot of people who will go there because of the location, regardless of what they find."

So there's hope! As long as we have a location, we can have tourism. But wait ...

"When you can put an X on the map, that's going to help you tremendously," said Curt Gaul, park ranger at the Jamestown National Historical Site.

Oh, so it's not just about artifacts ... we haven't even got a site yet. No site, no artifacts, and some word-of-mouth history. Are those enough elements on which to build an heritage tourism plan? Apparently so,

Robertson said the county should start working on educational components like signs and markers while still continuing to search for evidence in the ground.

And the educational markers will go where exactly? What sort of historical comments will they display?

James City is leading us into new dimensions in historic remembrance. It's the new, notional historic site.